Young people [ourselves in years gone by!] divide the world between things/experiences that are either fun or boring. Fun things include staying up late and sleeping late, watching tv, hanging out with friends, playing video games, talking on the phone. Boring things, on the other hand, include studying, reading, doing chores, visiting with the family, and going to Church.
The least demanding path seems so attractive to all of us.
To some degree in youth, and at other points in life, we equate doing the “good thing” as doing the boring thing. To really have fun, we have to do something “just outside the lines” or just a little risky. We somehow thing that if we keep all the rules and do what is expected, then we will not really have real fun. It is like: choose — have fun or do good so that doing good excludes having fun. To be happy means to have fun …. which requires us to play a little loose with the rules.
To be popular, to be cool …. one had to be at least a little wild!
If we can break a rule … or a least bend it a little …. and not get caught, then wow … we have really accomplished something. We had fun AND we did not get punished? Yahoo. We got away with something.
Those who try to do good or to follow the law, get the “negative label” of “goody-two-shoes” … or being a “holy-rollie”. Who wants to be a “holy-rollie?” Only the nerds, would make such a choice. Not trying to get away with something makes one a “scardey-cat.”
Then somewhere along the line we run into scriptures like the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes …. and we hear things like … to be blessed means to be holy. Blessed are they who …. happy are those who …. and we begin to wonder. Is it possible that we had it wrong? Maybe to be really happy one has to be holy? Oh, no! That does not sound like much fun.
Somewhere along the line, we come to realize that true happiness comes from seeking the way of the Lord …. doing our best to be holy as our God is holy.
Do we believe that true happiness requires holiness? Do we understand that in holiness we find happiness? That we never really get away with anything when we leave the straight and narrow?
The scripture this weekend reminds us that the hope that keeps us going requires that we live in the land of holiness …. and to experience that hope with minimal doubt, we have to get back on the straight path …. and live in holiness.
RE-HEAR the words from Philippians: 1: 4-6, 8-11:
And this is my prayer: (1) that your love may increase ever more in knowledge and every kind of perception, (2) to discern what is of VALUE, (3) so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
To be really and truly pure and blameless: how much do we really want that … on a scale of 1-10?
In the Gospel, Luke 3: 1-6, we hear the voice of John the Baptist crying out over time…prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths … the winding road shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.
Most of us are moving along quite well with our preparation for Christmas … the tree is up, some presents have been bought, some cards mailed and some received. Are our hearts and minds in the process of being prepared? readied for the coming of the Christ anew to us?
The work of God has begun in us …. otherwise we would not be “here” right now. St. Paul says he is confident that the one who began this work will continue it to completion. We are not complete yet …. we are in the process of being completed, being made right, being made holy. God who has begun this work in us, can bring it to completion…. if we make ready the way for him.
A few questions:
1. Do we reflect joy to others? How will others, especially the young, ever believe that people can be “good” and still be happy? With so many “sour” Christians, it is no wonder that kids think ….wow, why be good … look at those dried up, miserable-acting people? They profess faith, but look so unhappy!
2. Are we convinced that we can do good things, that we can go to Church, pray, help others … serve others … and still be happy? or, do we try to have a “church side” and a “fun side” …. are we trying to live split lives?
3. What relationship needs to be made smooth? Is there a rough spot that we are trying to gloss over?
4. What do I need to get right, get straight before Christmas? Am I fooling myself by trying to serve two masters? Are my priorities in proper order?
Walking the straight and narrow might not be so restrictive after all. In fact, the straight and narrow might make life a little easier.